What is an MOV File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert MOV Files

Picture of the MOV file icon

A file with the MOV file extension is an Apple QuickTime Movie file that's stored in a QuickTime File Format (QTFF) container file.

iOS devices like iPhones and iPads are a common place to see MOV files because that's the default file format that those devices record video in.

An MOV file can store audio, video, and text in the same file through different tracks, or the tracks can point to the data stored elsewhere in another file.

Note: Apple QuickTime Movie files generally use the .MOV file extension, but some may be saved with the .QT extension instead.

How To Open an MOV File

Apple's iTunes and QuickTime programs, VLC, Windows Media Player, Open Freely, and Elmedia Player are all able to open MOV files.

Another way to open MOV files on a computer is using Google Drive. For this to work requires you to upload the video to that online storage service, which then lets you not only back up the file online but also stream the MOV file from any browser and compatible mobile device (through its mobile apps).

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the MOV file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open MOV files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert an MOV File

There are lots of free file converters that can convert an MOV file to formats like MP4, WMV, and AVI.

Some can even extract the audio from the MOV file and save it as an MP3. A couple of my favorites include Freemake Video Converter and EncodeHD.

Even the VLC media player program mentioned above, which can open MOV files, can also convert them to formats like MP4. This is accomplished through VLC's Media > Convert / Save... menu option.

Browse for the MOV file and then use the Convert / Save button to choose an output format.

Video files are normally pretty large in size, so your best bet is to use a dedicated video converter program. But if you have a small video file or you don't mind waiting for it to upload, you can also convert an MOV file with an online converter like Zamzar or FileZigZag. Remember that converting the MOV file this way means you have to then download the converted file back to your computer before you can use it.

More Information on MOV Files

MP4 and MOV files are similar in that they are both lossy compression formats, meaning parts of the file are trimmed in order to result in a smaller file size. This is why you often see MP4 and MOV files as the format of choice for videos distributed online.

However, the MP4 container format is much more common than MOV and so is supported by a wider variety of software and hardware devices.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using an MOV File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the MOV file and I'll see what I can do to help.